Sox playing survivor

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Sox playing survivor

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

On Wednesday night, as the Sox kicked off the second game of their doubleheader with Seattle, The Comeback was playing on another channel.

If you're not familiar, The Comeback is easily one of the Top-5 Seinfeld shows of all time; one of those shows that you probably remember as being two or three individual episodes.

It has George and the Jerk Store, Jerry playing tennis with Milos, and Elaine falling in love with Vincent the video store clerk.

For the purpose of this column, it's also the episode where Kramer watches a movie called The Other Side of Darkness and becomes obsessed with comas. In the process, he decides that he'd rather die than ever be in a coma himself, and wants Elaine to be in charge of pulling the plug. Just in case.

"Yeah, because you're perfect," he tells her. "You're a calculating, cold-hearted businesswoman. And when there's dirty work to be done, you don't mind stomping on a few throats."

This comes after Kramer has already offered that job to Jerry, but backs out because he's not confident that Jerry would actually go through with.

"You can't let go!" Kramer screams, before doing something funny.

Anyway, I'm on my couch Wednesday night, watching this unfold in between innings, and two things are on my mind.

1. Nice, this is one of the "Hot Elaine" episodes!
2. Man, when it comes to the 2010 Red Sox, I'm just like Jerry I can't let go.

No. 1 needs no explanation, so I'll just do my best on No. 2.

Basically, I've had this team on life support since August 1.

At the time, they'd just closed July in a 10-13 funk that transformed their 1 12-game wild card-lead into a 5 12-game deficit. They were still dealing with substantial injuries. On top of that, the trade deadline had passed and the Sox were about as active as a hungover snail. They weren't playing well. The organization didn't seem very concerned with getting better. Not to mention, the Yanks and Rays were looking stronger every day!

At this point, I'd seen enough teams with "it" and the 2010 Sox didn't fit that mold. The next night, they lost at home to the Indians, and lost Kevin Youkilis for the season. I had the plug in my grasps, and was ready to yank it like I was starting a mower.

But something in me couldn't let go yet, and hasn't been able to since.

At first I thought, "OK, let's give them until the end of that four-game series in New York. If they don't take three games, then they're through."

When they only won two, I thought, "But, hey, now Pedroia's coming back! If anyone can turn this around, Pedey can! Let's see if they can go on a little run with him in the lineup, and if not, they're through."

When Pedroia lasted only two games, I thought, "Well, they can still beat up on the Angels, Jays and Mariners, and then they go to Tampa for three and then . . . who knows?"

I feel stupid already. Am I seriously still wondering whether they can put this all together? How long will I let this drag on for? Where's Elaine Benes when you need her?

But while we've had ample reason to write the Sox off as dead at many points over this last month, the truth is that they've yet to actually die. For 24 games in August, we've felt like they were about to roll over; to pack it in, and allow us to move on. But these guys are like that cow in Me, Myself and Irene.

The strange thing is that they're not even getting better. They're just not getting worse. I mean, has there ever been a point where they've actually turned us into believers? No, they've just consistently done enough to remind us that they still have a pulse. Enough to keep us interested and watching; enough to make us write things like, "and then they go to Tampa for three and then . . . who knows?"

Really, it feels silly. This is a team that is without their Nos. 1, 2 and 4 hitters from Opening Day, plus their starting center fielder. They're 5 12 games behind the best two teams in baseball. How does any of that add up?

Again, it doesn't. It hasn't for a while. But somehow we're still here, sitting and wondering, "What if they sweep this weekend? What if Lackey, Lester, Buchholz and Lester all put it together? What if Papi and V-Mart find a groove? What if Lowell pulls a Rasheed Wallace and gives them a month of magic before riding off into retirement?

What if . . . what if . . . what if . . .

For all the what-ifs, there's one thing I do know for sure: Without a sweep this weekend, the Sox are through.

(Then again, they do still have six games left against the Yankees . . . )

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays

 

QUOTES:

"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.

 

NOTES

* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.

 

STARS:

1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.

 

First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

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First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.

 

* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.

 

* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.